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Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Ernest Hemingway, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, Franz Kafka, David Foster Wallace, and more. In Process, acclaimed journalist Sarah Stodola examines the creative methods of literature’s most transformative figures. Each chapter contains a mini biography of one of the world’s most lauded authors, focused solely on his or her writing process. Unlike how-to books that preach writ ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Amazon Publishing
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Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2017
É sempre um prazer ler (neste caso ouvir) livros sobre livros, autores, rotinas dos autores e outras peculiaridades que caracterizam as vidas literárias (e não só) daqueles que tantas horas de puro deleite nos proporcionam.
I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Published by Amazon Publishing, January 20, 2015

What are we looking for when we look at the lives of great writers? I would assume many of us want the dirt; the broken relationships, alcohol problems, madness and eccentric behaviors we associate with artistic types. This is not a book about those things.

Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, is exactly what it says it is. These are not biogra
Noah Goats
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I write a bit of fiction myself and it’s always interesting to take a peek behind the curtain to see how successful writers operate. In Process, Sarah Stodola shares a series of profiles detailing, briefly, the writing lives of famous authors ranging from Edith Wharton to Junot Diaz. This book is interesting and inspiring, and even has a good idea or two that could be helpful to aspiring writers. It’s comforting to see how much the great novelists struggle to get words on the page.

Stephen King’
Scarlett Pierson
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It's perfect for someone that loves reading about authors and how they write. I thought the author sounded legit, informed, and was straightforward. I liked how she stayed on course and didn't get lost in the author's personal lives no matter how crazy they were. One thing she used the word "crystalline" entirely too much!
Myk Pilgrim
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's good to know that the greats were all crazy too.
Everyone has their own mountain to scale and I am not special.
Loved the 'Day in the life of a writer' sections they gave me a lot of great ideas to test out.
Very interesting read.
Leslie Lehr
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
TEN stars for this book! From Kafka to Kerouc, Didion to Diaz, this paints the big picture of how writers write. Each author, from the classic to the current are profiled in terms of their writing lives, techniques, dreams and a day in the life. Myths are dispelled, truths revealed, and enough affirmation and inspiration for all who endeavor to put worlds on the page. I mean, of course, words. Or did I? This belongs on your writers shelf between Anatomy of Story and Xray Writing.
Excellent on Au
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

"Process" is a book about writers and their routines (or lack thereof), collating information about a vast number of writings, from Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf through to Junot Diaz and David Foster Wallace, amongst many others. The book itself is split into sections, aggregating authors with similar processes (speed of writing, avoidance or embracing of the Internet, for example) into each section.

Stoloda ha
Chelsey Quack
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016, audiobook
3.5-4 stars, leaning toward 4.

This book is exactly as it is described. If you are interested in the topic, you will find something interesting here. Every chapter, even if you haven't read anything by the author featured, is interesting, engaging, and informative. However, I did find that I liked the chapters better that were about authors whose works I was at least a little bit familiar with. One or two authors I was 100% new to, and those chapters I was less into because it felt like I had a
John Doyle
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Process is a collection of prosaic essays describing the inspirations, works, and lives of eighteen well-known authors. Your romantic notions of writers in cozy sweaters effortlessly channeling otherworldly inspiration by fires in quiet woodsy cabins near lakes won't survive this book. In fact, after finishing this book I wondered how it is that "successful writer" doesn't regularly outdo "alaskan fisherman" on lists of the world's most hazardous occupations. Kafka, David Foster Wallace, Orwell, ...more
Dylan Perry
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2017

Process was as a pleasure to read, from start to end. I'm a sucker for anything about the lives of authors, as well as their creative process, so this was right up my alley. Almost every chapter was interesting in its own right, save for a couple whose work/process didn't really grab me (sorry, Richard Price and Edith Wharton) and the Toni Morrison chapter in particular made me go pick up my current read, Home, and add a great many other books to my ever-growing wishlist. If you're interest
Taylor Church
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was just what I needed. As a writer it's great to hear how other writers have done it. Not so much about how they crafted sentences or came up with complex plot structures, but rather the quirky details; how some refused to work before noon, how others could only party in Paris, and write in the states, while one preferred typing in a room painted black. The overall message is that there isn't a precise recipe for greatness, but that you must create your own path and pave it however yo ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-books-writing
Fun book that discusses the writing process of about 14 writers: Kafka, Foster Wallace, Nabokov, Woolf, Orwell, Zadie Smith, Wharton, etc. I've seen a few from this genre in the past few years, but this is the one to read. It's more in-depth with new and different information. That is, not just the typical or already well-known stories...the author digs a bit deeper. Fun read if you are a writer.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book is not bad, but if you're interested in reading this kind of thing about great writers, I recommend checking out the Paris Review's Interviews, which are available online for free: (Not everyone in the book is on there, but there are tons more.)
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Parts of the book were interesting, some weren't. It was a completely disconnected compilation of descriptions of authors.
Andrea Liu
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
*Received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

You might think writers who are able to complete a novel have an easier time writing, but actually, they are simply the most persistent.

I found this book to be completely fascinating.

I believe many of us have at least one good story in our imaginations and it’s just a matter of extraction. But how? Each writer has to find out their process, whether it has to do with time of day, arrangement of one or more writing areas,
Angela Hart
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How are you Post-NaNoWrimo? In honor of the writing challenge that just wrapped, I wanted to talk about writing!
Authors *all* write differently. It is important to understand that writing is a personal process and not everyone will write in the same manner. I recommend this book to all writers and anyone who is a literature lover - having read the classics. There is advice about writing and biographical information about the authors.

My BookTube Review:
This book was a very enjoyable collection of insights into the lives, writing lives and writing habits of well known authors. It was a pretty diverse group - Kafka, Hemingway, Zadie Smith, Virginia Woolf - with some attempt at grouping them according to broad writing habits which didn't quite work for me. I was fascinated by the individual entries, although some were more interesting than others but overall it didn't quite draw me in as much as I had expected.
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Top three things I learned from this book:

1. I am woefully under-read in the classics. (Though I'm not really sure I care to remedy that; I've never liked classics much.)

2. George Orwell's real name: Eric Blair. I find this a bit disappointing for some reason.

3. Jack Kerouac was "meticulously organized" and "not a free spirit"; he also never learned to drive, despite having written the iconic travel novel On the Road. I find this all hilarious.
Blake Donley
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
For what it is—and this is well defined from the outset—this is a good book. It is more of a documentary-come-to-book than anything else. It reminded me of a "VH-1 Behind the Music" series devoted to authors. I found the information more interesting than useful. It was an entertaining read, regardless.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maybe it was the moment I read it, but it was a very inspiring read. Wasn't looking for anything but all the anecdotes and stories, suggestions, tips and tricks are highly inspiring. Very easy and pleasurable read written by a very good writer too.
J David
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If books are your magic this is for you.

I love books. I love reading books and perhaps reading about books even more. I am fascinated by writers and how they create their books. If you have a similar fascination you will love this book.
Stanley Turner
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good Information...

A very good read with lots of information on some of the great authors of the 20th century. How the various authors worked throughout their days of writing in interesting information. I would recommend this work for all individuals...SLT
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like candy.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: storytelling, writing
This book is exactly what the title promises, and nothing but. Probably worth dipping into if you're curious about how different writers work.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you have even a slight interest in any of the authors in this book--read it!

Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid - does what it says on the tin. No great revelations, but it is interesting - and encouraging - to see there's not just one correct creative path.
Nathan Swann
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Whispering Stories
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was given an early copy of this book to review through NetGalley.

Sarah Stodola wanted to learn about the writing habits of not only the greatest authors living today, but those that have since died. With the help of the author’s documents, she has managed to do just that.

Her book is split into nine sections with each section featuring two authors, from the "Nine-to-Fivers" to "Two Takes on the Digital Age". Each author is given a mini-biography of their lives and the way in which they write/wr
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Copy received through Goodreads’ First Reads program.

It’s always interesting to learn more about the writing habits of famous authors, for at least one non-embarrassing reason: the interest in learning more about beloved authors, their biographies, and the additional humanity that such knowledge bestows upon favorite novels. (There’s also the embarrassing belief that, if we all just knew the secret “how,” we’d all be capable of great literature. It’s certainly not the “not writing anything ever
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Sarah Stodola has written an interesting book in Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors. This book is of interest to more than just those drawn to the writing life. People who are interested in how their favorite books might have been written will enjoy it as well.

From the Introduction: "Process will also interest those who love literature with without wishing to create it themselves, in the same way that seeing the way a car motor works can be fascinating for mere drivers. One of the grea
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“The way Smith sees it, this kind of approach denotes a certain category of writer: the Micro Manager. Authors fall into one of two primary camps, she explained in her 2009 book of essays, Changing My Mind.691 Macro Planners work out the structure of their novels and then write within that structure. Micro Managers, on the other hand, don’t rely on an overarching configuration (don’t even conceive of one), but rather home in on each sentence, one by one, and each sentence, as they come to it, becomes the only thing that exists. If there is a spectrum starting with Macro Planners on one end and Micro Managers on the other, Smith would be somewhere to the right of the page. Smith’s writing is entirely incremental and cumulative. The grand plan is that there is no grand plan; working things out ahead of time ruins everything, “feels disastrous.”She prefers the writing of a novel as a process of discovery. “The thinking goes on on the page,” not beforehand.” 0 likes
“Like so many authors, Price confesses that he hates writing. “The only thing worse than writing is not writing,” he once told the London Telegraph.152 Which could be the key to the whole thing—choosing the anxiety of writing over the small death of not doing it.” 0 likes
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